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Explore the Splendors of Croatia – Tour Specials!

By February 24, 2017 Cities, Countries, Destinations, Family Travel, Fine Dining, Food, Tours

Explore the Splendors of Croatia

Discover this incredibly beautiful and diverse country.

Discover this incredibly beautiful and diverse country. Dubrovnik, Zagreb, Split and Zadar are among the fabulous cities reflecting its rich culture with many UNESCO World Heritage sites. You will be transported back in time when strolling through winding stone-paved streets and squares. Enjoy one or more of the 8 national parks. Forests rich in vegetation, cascading lakes and beautiful travertine waterfalls create a masterpiece of nature. Also visit the fabulous Croatian Islands caressed by the sun, gentle breezes and aromas of pine and lavender filling the air. Enjoy the fabulous beaches with their crystal clear blue sea should not be missed!

The Splendors of Croatia: Croatia Escapade

12 Day Tour
Dubrovnik, Mostar, Plitvice, Sibenik, Split, Trogir, Zadar, and Zagreb

• Two nights in Zagreb, three nights in Zadar, two nights in Split and three nights in Dubrovnik at a selected first class hotels
• Four private 3 hour walking tours in Zagreb (funicular), Zadar, Split (Diocletian’s Palace) & Dubrovnik (Rector’s Palace a Franciscan Monastery) including entrance fees
• All inclusive 7 day manual car rental with pick up/drop off at hotel
• Hotel stays include daily breakfast, service fees and taxes
• Schedule small group tour to the Plitvice Lakes National Park
• Private transfers Zagreb Airport/Hotel & Dubrovnik Hotel/Airport
11 Day Land Tour starting at
$995 per person, double occupany

Brac, Hvar, & Korcula: Croatia Island Hopping

11 Day Tour
Brac, Croatia, Dubrovnik, Hvar, Korčula, and Split

• One night in Split, two nights in Brac, two nights in Hvar, two nights in Korcula and two nights in Dubrovnik at a selected first class hotels
• Ferry transportation Split/Brac/Hvar/ Korčula/Dubrovnik
• Private transfers Split Airport/Hotel, Split Hotel/Pier, Brac Pier/Hotel, Brac Hotel/Pier, Korčula Pier/Hotel, Korčula Hotel/ Pier, Dubrovnik Pier/Hotel, Dubrovnik Hotel/Airport
• Private 3 hour walking tour of Split (Diocletian’s Palace) & Dubrovnik (Rector’s Palace & Franciscan Monastery) including entrance fees
• Hotel stays include daily breakfast, service fees and taxes
10 Day Tour starting at
$1130 per person, double occupancy

The Splendors of Croatia: Enchanting Croatia

10 Day Tour
Croatia, Dubrovnik, Hvar, Split, and Ston

• Three nights in Split, three nights in Hvar and two nights in Dubrovnik at a selected hotels
• Ferry transportation Split/Hvar/Dubrovnik
• Two private 3 hour walking tour of Split (Diocletian’s Palace) & Dubrovnik (Rector’s Palace & Franciscan Monastery) including entrance fees
• Hotel stays include daily breakfast, service fees and taxes
• Private transfers Split Airport/Hotel, Split Hotel/Pier, Dubrovnik Hotel/Airport
10 Day Tour starting at
$995 per person, double occupancy

Croatia Food Tasting

8 Day Tour
Croatia, Dubrovnik, Konavle, Metkovic, Split, Ston, and Trogir

The food specialties of the Slavonian area abound with hot spices, home grown ingredients and meat. The famous paprika flavored sausage, kulen, is usually served with cottage or dried cheese followed by goulash meat stew or freshwater river fish paprikash. Along the Adriatic coast small wine growing and olive oil estates can be found almost everywhere. Authentic stone villages and olive mills scattered all over the Istrian Peninsula will transport you to the past. One of the most recognizable culinary treasures of this area is the world known Istrian white truffle. The Dalmatian cuisine closely related with the Adriatic sea and consists a great variety of sea food dishes such as fish stewed brodettos or risottos. Fresh Adriatic fish is usually grilled with local olive oil and served with boiled vegetables which make this cuisine one of the healthiest in the world. A must-try is also Dalmatian and Istrian dried ham.

• Three nights in Dubrovnik, two nights in Split, one night in Ston, one night in Korcula at a selected first class hotels
• 7 dinners and 6 lunches without drinks
• 3 wine tastings
• Private transfers and ferry
• Hotel stays include daily breakfast, service Fees and taxes
8 Day Tour starting at
$1890 per person, double occupancy

Croatia Wine Tasting

8 Day Tour
Croatia, Dubrovnik, Opatija, Split, Ston, Trogir, and Zadar

What makes Croatia interesting for wine lovers is the wide variety of wine categories and grape types grown throughout centuries in limited space. Croatia is divided into two main wine making regions: the continental and coastal region. The delightful continental region with its unspoiled countryside covered with fruitful plains and forests in Slavonia and the amazing green hills in Zagorje and Međimurje are the main providers of white wine varieties. The Adriatic area is known for producing the Bordeaux reds like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon but also by the deep and intense colored Teran, considered the indigenous wine of Istria, together with white Malvazija. The outstanding scenery of the Dalmatian coast and its undisturbed Mediterranean vegetation is home to a stunning pallet of indigenous grape types. Tasting one of the most regarded Croatian red wines such as Postup and Dingač will take you to a fulfilling journey your senses will never forget!

• One night accommodation in Zagreb, Two nights accommodation in Opatija, two nights accommodation in Split, two nights accommodation in Dubrovnik
• 7 dinners and 6 lunches without drinks
• 3 wine tastings
• Private transfers
• Hotel stays include daily breakfast, service Fees and taxes
8 Day Tour starting at
$2160 per person, double occupancy

Interested in these tours? We are ready to answer your questions!

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Holidays on the River – Mississippi River Cruise Specials

By February 19, 2017 Cities, Cruising, Destinations, Travel

 

Lower Prices in June on the Mississippi’s most popular itinerary

Space Still Available!

River Cruises are a convenient and relaxed form of travel with all of the benefits of inclusive big ship ocean cruising, but with fewer passengers creating a more personalized, intimate vacation experience. The unique blend of stunning landscapes and profound history, acclaimed regional cuisine prepared with locally sourced ingredients, multiple dining venues, exceptional entertainment, and the adventure of exploring riverside port cities is just a sampling of the many elements fueling the strong appeal of river cruising. Imagine the freedom of unpacking only once and settling into the comforts of your classically furnished stateroom complete with every modern convenience and the addition of your own personal attendant. Sounds pretty amazing, doesn’t it?

A TASTE OF THE TRUE SOUTH

9 Day River Cruise — New Orleans to Memphis

Memory flows deep and sentiment eddies and swirls along the Lower Mississippi River. Experience authentic Southern culture as you journey through living history and soak in the romantic spirit of the Antebellum era. Fertile cotton fields, vast sugar cane plantations and imposing pillared mansions will transport you back in time, as will the Civil War battlefields.

9 Days starting at
$1,999 per person
save $600* per stateroom
June 25, 2017 – July 03, 2017
Jun 11, 2017 – Jun 19, 2017

INSIDE THE BOURBON EXPERIENCE

9 Day River Cruise — Memphis to Louisville

Learn what makes a centuries-old tradition as uniquely American as our river cruises with this rare opportunity to experience an extraordinary journey through America’s Heartland and into the roots of Kentucky’s bourbon region. This special themed voyage will take you behind the scenes and into the history books to show you where bourbon comes from, how it is made and the ways to distinguish the unique characteristics of different distilleries. Not only are there special tastings, treats, and cooking demonstrations, but also an exclusive line-up of special onboard guests. Bill Samuels Jr., son of Maker’s Mark founder, Bill Samuels Sr., will lead a Maker’s Mark presentation and tasting. Also joining Bill Samuels will be Don Flinn of Buffalo Trace whose presentations and tastings have received rave reviews on our past Bourbon cruises. Michael Veach, a bourbon historian and member of the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame, brings an unbiased opinion to any bourbon conversation and will offer tastings of some of the world’s most famous and unique bourbons. Both onboard and ashore, each day presents an eclectic blend of music, creative workshops and a wealth of enrichment that can’t be found anywhere else. This dynamic blend of historic discovery, toe-tapping entertainment and complimentary tours of the finest bourbon distilleries creates a uniquely American river cruise that you simply cannot afford to miss!

9 Days starting at
$1,899 per person
save $800* per stateroomJuly 02, 2017 – July 10, 2017

SHAKE, RATTLE AND ROLLIN’ ON THE RIVER

9 Day River Cruise — Louisville to St. Louis

Grab your poodle skirt and join us onboard as we rewind the clock and take you back to the feel-good music that dominated the 1950s and 60s. While the sound of the forties Big Band era lingered into the early fifties, the emergence of artists such as Bill Haley with chart-toppers like “Rock Around the Clock” had America swinging to a whole new sound by the mid-fifties. Along with the birth of Rock and Roll emerged other musical genres like doo-wop, rhythm and blues, and country which flowed into the early sixties. The early part of the sixties, much like the previous decade, was an extension of the doo-wop sounds and poignant ballads that had led the charts in the late fifties. The baby boomers, now teenagers, loved to dance and television shows like American Bandstand influenced the popularity of dance styles like the Twist, the Swim, and the Pony just to name a few. Enjoy a trip down memory lane with our full line-up of nostalgic activities and sensational, ensemble performances by brilliant entertainers. Dance, sing and relive the pop culture crazes of the fifties and sixties on this fun-loving, carefree cruise catered to the young at heart!

9 Days starting at
$1,899 per person
save $800* per stateroom
July 16, 2017 – July 24, 2017

HOLIDAY MEMORIES TO LAST A LIFETIME

9 Day River Cruise — Memphis to New Orleans

Amid the glittering elegance of this holiday cruise is a seasonal spirit larger than life. Experience the best of the Antebellum South during a magical time of the year and delight in all of your favorite holiday treats while getting acquainted with the classic traditions of the Cajun and Creole cultures. Sip a glass of eggnog as you listen to the sweet sound of local choirs and bands serenade you upon departure from the enchanting ports of Vicksburg and Natchez. Receive a warm welcome from strolling carolers upon arrival to charming St. Francisville. An exclusive lineup of Christmas markets offers a little something for everyone including music, seasonal goods and locally produced crafts for you to enjoy.

9 Days starting at
$1,799 per person
save $800* per stateroom
Dec. 03, 2017 – Dec. 11, 2017
Dec. 10, 2017 – Dec. 18, 2017
Dec. 17, 2017 – Dec. 26, 2017

A CLASSIC COUNTRY HOLIDAY

7 Day River Cruise — Roundtrip Nashville

Experience the best of the south during a magical time of the year and delight in all of your favorite holiday treats while getting acquainted with the classic, homespun holiday traditions of Nashville.

7 Days starting at
$2,599 per person
save $500* per stateroom
Dec. 04, 2017 – Dec. 10, 2017
Dec. 10, 2017 – Dec. 16, 2017
* Offers expire 3/31/17 or when no qualifying cabins are available. Offers are only valid on new, paid-in-full bookings. Full payment at time of booking is required to redeem these offers and cabins will not be held without full payment. Offers open to U.S. and Canada residents only. Not valid on Group bookings or existing reservations; cannot be combined with other promotions or discounts. Promotional fares and amenities are capacity controlled, may vary by sailing and may be withdrawn without notice. Cruise fare does not include government taxes and fees, port charges, gratuities, airfare, insurance, personal expenditures, and transportation costs incurred while traveling to and from embarkation ports. Not responsible for errors or omissions. Additional terms and conditions may apply.

 

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Save More Money on Purchases in Mexico!

By January 5, 2017 Cities, Countries, Destinations, For Your Journey, Products

Everyone is looking for a deal, and appreciative when it can save some money. It’s Even better when an offer of savings can apply to purchases regardless if they are on sale, discount, or clearance.

In Mexico, foreign tourists can receive a tax refund valued to 8.96% on many purchases, as part of a tourism initiative that was started in 2008. Despite its nearly 10 years of operation, it is still fairly unknown, which translates into millions of pesos left unclaimed as a refund to tourists who had visited Mexico.

Don’t be one of those tourists who leave money behind! Here is what you need to know, so you can take advantage of this promotion.

  1. Only those departing Mexico by Air or Sea can qualify. If you are going by Land, sorry, you can’t participate.
  2. Have a photocopy of your passport, Immigration Document, or Cruise Pass and/or boarding pass to attach to your documentation. Private charter fliers can participate if they can present a flight manifest.
  3. Purchase only from Mexican retailers who display the TAXFREE or MONEYBACK signage. If in doubt, ask before your purchase, if the retailer is a participant.
  4. Current law in Mexico requires retailers to provide an invoice (receipt) to every international visitor with itemized details of your purchase. On the invoice should be the generic tourist code: XEXX010101000
  5. Only tangible purchases, that will be carried home in your luggage can qualify. No services, lodging, dining, online, or shipped purchases are accepted.
  6. Only 3,000 pesos worth of cash purchases can be claimed, but there is no maximum with purchases made on Visa or Mastercard credit or debit cards. American Express credit cards are also acceptable.
  7. Retain all your invoices.
  8. Take your documentation, and invoices, to a refund kiosk located at the mall, cruise port, or airport. Additional paperwork will be completed and your refund submitted.

Mexico advertises that the refund will take 45-60 days, but some take over 9 months to process. The good news is that its money that was already calculated in the cost of the products you purchased, so the refund should be a benefit.

This promotion is available for use by retailers across Mexico, but you will likely only find it in destinations with many tourists. You will be able to participate in Cancun, Cozumel, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico City, Riviera Maya, Riviera Nayarit, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Taxco, Acapulco, Ixtapa, Merida, Loreto, Costa Maya, Cuernavaca, Queretaro, Puebla, La Paz, Puerto Chiapas, Ensenada, Leon, Mazatlan, Toluca.

I hope that this helps you save a little more money in your travels to Mexico.

If you send me an email, I will send you, at no cost, the brochure and submission document you will need to apply for the refund.

The Brochure is available in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Chinese, and Japanese.

 

save money in mexico

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5 Authentic Recipes from the Bahamas

By December 27, 2016 Countries, Food, Recipes

I recently made a trip to the Bahamas. If you’ve never been, you might consider a visit. Its close and easily accessible to the U.S. You can read about my visit Here. If you have spent any time on the islands, I’m certain you have encountered these dishes.

Many delicious foods are unique to the Bahamas, and I’ve chosen a few that are a top pick while visiting, that you might like to try again at home.

Peas ‘n Rice

This dish is a very common staple among the locals. It has been served in the Bahamas for as long as international explorers, settlers, rum runners and slave traders have occupied its many shores. Well… not exactly. Before rice was commonly imported, it was served as Peas ‘n Grits, and the peas are really a domestic bean from Africa, but other than those variables, its been around for a very long time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion – diced.
  • 1 green bell pepper – diced
  • 1/2 C  bacon grease or cooking oil
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1/2 T coarse thyme or 2 fresh sprigs chopped
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t pepper
  • 1 t browning sauce
  • 1 large can of regular pigeon peas or pigeon peas in coconut milk (Goya brand is common in US)
  • 2 C long grain white rice – Mahatma preferred (uncooked)
  • 3 C water
  • 5 QT Crockpot

Heat grease (oil) in pot. Add diced onions and peppers, and thyme. Sweat down until onions are t

ranslucent. Then add paste, salt, pepper, and browning sauce. Stir till well mixed. Add pigeon peas, water, and stir. Bring to boil. Slowly stir in the rice, reduce heat to medium, stirring occasionally. Rice will color as it absorbs the water. When most of the water has absorbed, reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer until rice is fully cooked.

 

Historically, this would also have cooked meat stirred in, similar to jambalaya, and served as a complete meal. You could do so, or just serve this as a side. The bacon grease gives this an authentic flavor, but on the islands, you use what is available, so oil works just fine. Green pepper can be

Peas n' Rice

Peas n’ Rice

substituted with other colors, or even kicked up a notch with mild chili like Hatch or Anaheim. Don’t have any onion? Go with thin sliced celery. The point is that in the Bahamas, you use what you have, or change it to what you prefer, if the original recipe doesn’t suit your palate. Serves 4

 

Conch Fritters

Conch is a sea snail, that has been a staple in the Bahamas, even among the original occupants- the Lucayans. With the influence of many other cultures, and the availability of flour, and other vegetables, the Conch Fritter was born. Every restaurant in the Bahamas will have this as an appetizer, but you cannot go very far down a local road before you encounter a fry shop serving this as the main menu item. Frankly, they seem to taste better on the street.

Ingredients:

  • 5 C cooking oil
  • 3 medium conch – minced or ground
  • 1 bell pepper – finely chopped
  • 1 small onion – minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 C milk
  • 1/4 t chili powder
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 t salt

Directions: 

Heat oil in a deep fryer or large pot to 350 degrees. Clean and skin conch, remove eye,  and put through a meat grinder or food processor. Place the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl to make a batter. Check batter for consistency. Too Runny – add some flour. Too Stiff – add just a little water. Drop batter by heaping tablespoon into hot oil.  fry for 4-5 minutes, then turn over for another 4-5 minutes, until golden brown. Allow fritters to drain on paper towels. Serve with dipping sauce

Dipping Sauce:

In a bowl, mix:

  • ½ C Catsup
  • ½ t horseradish
  • 1 T mayonnaise
  • 1/2 t worcestershire sauce
  • Salt to taste

This basic recipe is used in the home. The local shops and restaurants modify it slightly in an attempt to set themselves apart from their competitors, and you are welcome to do the same to suit the recipe to your own palate. You can find this made with the addition of celery, goat pepper, carrot, etc.

Courtesy Bahamas Travel Guide

Conch Fritters

 

Can’t find Conch, or its cost prohibitive in your area, you can substitute with canned minced baby clams. Or just throw it to the wind, and go with finely minced crayfish, shrimp, or lobster. Might be just a delicious with bacon too!

The dipping sauce is pretty standard, but if you are making your own, I’d go with Fry Sauce. Its another cultural food novelty mostly found in Utah and East Idaho. I’ll have the recipe another day. Serves 4

Conch Salad

A fresh citrus marinated salad. Its refreshing, and very popular.

Ingredients:

  • 4  conchs – skinned and cubedBahamian Boiled Fish
  • 2 freshly squeezed limes
  • 1 freshly squeezed orange
  • 1 Tomato – Diced
  • 1 Onion – Diced
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper – Diced
  • 1 t salt

Process the conch first, and add it to the lime juice in a bowl. Then prepare all the other ingre

Bahamas Conch Salad

Bahamas Conch Salad

dients. As each ingredient is completed, add to the bowl. When all are added, its tradition to mix with your bare hands, but utensils are a better idea given that this is not cooked. Dish up contents in bowls, with plenty of the marinade.

 

You can also substitute other seafood, but unlike the conch, you will need to cook them first, as this marinade isn’t going to cure the ingredients the same way as would  a ceviche dish. Some wonderful additions can be other cubed fruit such a mango or pineapple. Serves 4

Fish Boil

If you have ever had a New England Boiled Dinner, you might be thinking that this dish is similar. While its roots might be tied to British and American colonists’ boiled cooking methods, a Fish Boil in the Bahamas is a more subtle, savory dish. The fish is not actually boiled, but simmered near the end of the cooking process.

Grouper is the ideal fish among the locals, however any whitefish will do just as nicely, so don’t hesitate to try this with snapper, cod, halibut, flounder or any other suitable species. One species that would do very well for you to request from your local fish shop is Lionfish. Its an invasive non-native species in the Caribbean, and because it has toxic spines, has not been a favored catch among fishermen. Cut those spines off though, and process like any other fish, and you have one of the best tasting fish on the market. By requesting this species, you’ll create a demand for Lionfish, and perhaps its numbers will finally be reduced, so native populations aren’t as impacted by this invader. If you do get your hands on this delicious species – you will be in for a real treat.

Ingredients

  • 2 Lbs of Grouper or other whitefish. Filets or bone-in are fine.
  • 2 Limes – juiced
  • 1/4 t Salt
  • 1/4 t Pepper
  • 4 Potatoes – Large cubes
  • 2 Celery Stalks – Large Cubes
  • 1/4 Goat Pepper- diced (Or other hot pepper)
  • 2 T Butter
  • 1 T Cloves – Whole
  • 1 Garlic clove – chopped
  • 3 C Water

Season fish with lime juice, salt and pepper. Set side to marinate. In a pot, combine all other ingredieBahamian Boiled Fishnts, bring to boil and cover for 15 minutes until potatoes are just becoming soft. Uncover, add fish with lime juice to pot, setting on top of potatoes. Reduce heat to simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, or until fish is flaky. Don’t leave too long or it will fall apart, and potatoes will be mushy.

Place contents on plate, sided with Peas n’ Rice or buttered grits. Additions to consider are carrots or cabbage. Plantain also pairs very well. Serves 4.

 

Guava Duff

The Bahamas were part of the British commonwealth until fairly recently, and adapted many of their words and gastronomy. Duff is a traditional English word for pudding, and both duff and pudding have been used interchangeably in English literature. In the Bahamas it has more commonly been a substitute for the word dessert, although many of these are boiled/steamed much like English pudding anyway.

Guava Duff is served with a butter sauce, often infused with rum in true Caribbean style.

Ingredients

  • 1 C Sugar
  • 4 T Butter
  • 3 Eggs – beaten
  • 3 C Guava – mashed (seeds removed, then food processor or steamed and mashed)
  • 1 t Nutmeg – ground
  • 1 t Cinnamon – ground
  • 1/2 t Clove – ground
  • 4 C Flour
  • 2 t Baking Powder

Combine sugar and butter in a bowl, and blend till well creamed. Now add eggs, guava, and spices, blending until smooth. Add baking powder to flour and stir or sift until well mixed, then add to bowl with all other ingredients. Stir well until all ingredients are well mixed and a firm dough is formed.

Cooking has a number of options. Traditionally this would be cooked in a calico or light muslin p

Guava Duff

Guava Duff

udding bag. You can wrap in many layers of cheesecloth. If you don’t have such a bag or cloth, you can place in a long plastic bag and seal up, so long as no holes are present. A used plain bread bag would work. Another option is to use a double boiler, oil the top pot and put the duff evenly in the pot. The last option would be to put the duff in a narrow, empty can, and place in a pot of boiling water deep enough to come up to 3/4 way to the top of the can.

 

Boil / steam for 3 hours. Slice and serve with butter sauce drizzled on top.

Butter Sauce

  • 1 C powdered sugar
  • 1/4 C butter
  • 1 t boiling water

Cream butter, then gently blend in sugar, as this stiffens, mix in the water.  Melt just before serving. If you want Butter Rum sauce, just add 1/2 T of rum, or 1/4 T rum extract in the mixing process.

Beverages

Bahamian meals would not be complete without authentic drinks. Personally, I don’t imbibe, and don’t encourage it. but if you do, these drinks can be mixed with 1-2 fl oz of your favorite liquor, such a rum, gin, brandy.

Switcha

This is a staple citrus beverage in the Bahamas. Nobody is quite sure how it got its name, but it will definitely please.

Ingredients

  • 1 C Lime Juice (preferably Key Lime)
  • 1/4 C Lemon Juice
  • 1 C Simple Syrup (Or granulated sugar)
  • 1 Gallon Water

Mix all the ingredients, and chill for 1-2 hours or serve directly over ice. This is a tart, but less puckering version of limeade. To make this like a limeade, just cut the water to half. Key limes really make the difference here, but whatever limes you can acquire to juice will be fine. Least preferable would be to use bottled juice. Locals who have no lemons available, have opted to use orange juice, which is an interesting, refreshing variation. Serves 8

Sky Juice

This was originally an alcoholic beverage that required a very non Caribbean alcohol – vodka. With the exception of the resort towns, that ingredient is not as prevalent or popular, and thus it has also been made with more commonly available liquors. But there is still a large demand for it without alcohol ie “unleaded” as some locals like to say.

Ingredients

  • 3 C Coconut Water
  • 1 C Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1/2 t Nutmeg
  • 1/4 t Cinnamon

Mix all ingredients and chill for 2-3 hours. If you have had the good fortune of getting fresh coconut water, use the coconuts to serve this simply delicious drink. It will take 5 to 6 coconuts to have enough water. You can use the Canned Coconut water just as easily. Its reminiscent of Horchata but with a tropical twist. This can also be processed in a blender with ice to create a very nice frozen drink!

 

For those of you who have visited the Bahamas, I anticipate that these recipes will bring back fond memories. Those that haven’t yet visited, What are you waiting for?  Until you can visit, these recipes will give you a small taste of the Bahamas.

bahama-recipes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Stop wasting Time in the Airport! Here’s How..

By December 15, 2016 Destinations, For Your Journey, Hacks

Think about your last visit to the airport, and where was the one place you wasted time, and it was annoying? It took extra time that you wish you could avoid.  It probably required a long line. And even if you had kiosk service, you still had to wait….

YES, I’m talking about the check-in counter!

The single largest time waste in the airport is during check-in. To drastically reduce this time requires a multi-pronged approach

  1. Book flights with airlines that allow online check-in. This will keep you out of the lines requiring check-in at the airport. A list of all airlines that provide Online Check-in is here.
  2. Fly with carry-on only. This eliminates any lines prior to the security check.
  3. If checking luggage, invest in the One Bag Tag. This high tech device replaces the luggage tracking tags placed on your luggage every time you check your bags. You will have a permanent bar code, and your flight will be tagged to that code on every flight. No more stickers, waiting for printing, removing tags, and more. It also provides real-time tracking of your luggage in the airport, and if you are separated – such as when the airline misdirects your luggage. There are other great features you can learn about in this video:

 

Implement these 3 items, and you will drastically reduce your time in the airport. To cut down on your time even more, try doing these additional items:

  1. If you travel often, take advantage of TSA’s PreCheck. This is a very short security line, and is fast. You don’t need to remove shoes, belts, liquids, and laptops. All these items make the other security check-ins much slower. Add that it has fewer people participating, and you are moving through the line very quickly.
  2. If you choose not to participate in PreCheck, then as you are in the line, queuing for your turn with the TSA Agent, have all of your items removed and placed in the outside pocket of your carry-on. This would be jewelry, belt, coins, electronic items, wallet, etc. The only items you will need are your ID and airline tickets. The you can quickly place your shoes in a bin, carry-on in a bin, and laptop in a bin, and move over to the imaging line for body screening.
  3. If you have multiple xray/screening lines, your best option is to go to those on the left. its natural for humans to go right. and unless they are savvy travelers, they will gravitate to the right. This means that even if the left line looks just as long, its likely occupied by travelers who are doing the same time saving techniques as you, and those lines will move quicker.
  4. Take advantage of travel lounges when available. Its quieter, and less crowded, so you can make last minute calls, and even find more power outlets if you need to charge devices, or connect to the online world. Often you can get beverage service, and light food – again without losing your terminal seat, and standing in a concession line. some are free, others cost a day charge, however frequent travelers can save money by purchasing an annual membership that allows access to 1000+ airport lounges. Details can be found Here.

Lastly, you can save time with your ticketing, and in the case of cancellations or severe delays, by taking advantage of Travel Insurance, and the services of a Travel Professional.  Both resources can completely eliminate standing in line for re-ticketing and booking. Just return to the lounge, and get your travel professional on the problem. Typically, they will have it solved well before you could get back to the ticketing agent, and you won’t have to leave the security zone to make it happen.

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The Most Clever Way to Save Money at Universal Studios!

By December 13, 2016 Destinations, Family Travel, For Your Journey, Hacks, Products, Travel
Clever Way to Save at Universal Studios Florida

If you are planning to attend Universal Studios, you’ve probably seen some of the pricing, and likely taken a deep breath. I can imagine its more than you first expected! Wouldn’t you like to save money on your trip? Wondering what is the most effective way to save money at Universal Studios?

The Most clever, and effective way to save money going to Universal Studios, is to attend as a GROUP! Seriously, its that easy, and the group does not have to be a large group either! In fact, the larger the group, the better the pricing for park tickets, but group pricing can begin with less than 20 people! With day tickets exceeding $100, group ticketing gets the price under that threshold.

But the savings are not just for group day tickets! In fact, if you have interest in staying for multiple days, you can really save a tremendous amount of money with a group package at Universal Studios Orlando. Here is what to expect in savings exclusively for groups:

  • Savings on Park Tickets
  • Early Park Entry Passes
  • Special discounts on select merchandise
  • Free Discount Savings Booklet worth over $150 in savings
  • Group Leader complimentary meals and services
  • Reduced hotel costs

How to Qualify as a Group

By now, you may be thinking – gee that’s nice, but its only my family, how is that going to help?

This is how easy it is to get group discounts – get a few families together, and commit to travel at the same time, and stay in the same hotel. 10 paid hotel rooms will qualify for the exceptional rates available. That’s 10 couples, and maybe less if  large families are booking 2 adjoining rooms.

A family of 4, could have the families of their children’s friends invited. Now you have 3 rooms booked. They all ask grandparents to come, and you have 9 rooms done. If every family just invited one more family or person, that would be 13 rooms, and the family organizing the trip get extra perks to offset their trip, such as free meals for one adult, and the room for free!

Or perhaps you belong to a youth sports program, club, or church group. Just about any group can qualify.

Next is to contact your Travel Professional, and work with them in arranging your group with Universal Studios. They’ll know the ins and outs of the many benefits to groups at the park, and advantages to the many options that are available. They will know of blackout dates, and when group travel is not the best savings available.

They can also offer additional options and tours to experience while in the Orlando area.

Tips for Extra Savings

One more way to save, is by booking your air travel or ground transportation as a group. It can be done on your own, Shrek 4-Dbut the easiest way is to work with your travel professional. It usually doesn’t cost you anything if this person is booking your entire package,  so you not only save money by group booking, but you’ll save lots of time and frustration too!

Traveling by motorcoach is an excellent way to save money on ground transportation. and can cost less than traveling by auto if the group is 15 or more passengers. And you’ll enjoy less hassle, have better comfort, and how cool is it to not stop every time a little one needs a potty break?! (Motorcoaches have on-board lavatories)

If you decide that you want to book your own ground travel, contact ANGL. Tell them Shawn at East-West Global Traveler sent you, and they will take good care of your needs.

PS

If you book this winter, but wait to go to Universal Studios until after June 2017, your group ticket package will include Volcano Bay – Universal’s newest theme park, That’s 3 parks for the same price as 2! Just more more way to save!

 

 

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Are you looking for Over-the Water Bungalows?

By December 12, 2016 Countries, Destinations, Travel

For many years, Tahiti has held the market for Over-the-Water resort stays, but options for other destinations is rapidly expanding!

Sandals recently debuted the Caribbean’s first-ever Over-the-Water Villas at Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay, Jamaica on Dec. 1, 2017. These are the first of their kind in the region, and are designed to “convey an intimate connection to the Caribbean Sea.”

With these new Over-the-Water Villas already in high demand, it was no surprise that Sandals Resorts has announced they are creating additional Over-the-Water suites at new locations throughout the Caribbean. These new suites will be unveiled at select “Luxury Included” resorts throughout 2017 and 2018, including 12 additional Over-the-Water Bungalows at Sandals Royal Caribbean slated to open in March 2017.

In a recent press release Gordon “Butch” Stewart, Chairman and Founder of Sandals Resorts said, “I have always said that being out on the water is where I am happiest, and with these suites, guests can experience a direct link to the Caribbean Sea.”

Each of the five villas has a different design, representing the Feng Shui elements: Wood, Water, Fire, Earth and Metal. The interior and exterior spaces are merged through expansive glass doors, facilitating couples’ opportunity to admire the beauty of the ocean from their private infinity pool, on an over-the-water hammock, or through glass floor panels.

Beyond the majestic ocean views, guests staying in the Villas have access to unparalleled services and exclusive resort amenities; from 24/7 butler service, and personalized in-room dining, to private yoga classes and direct resort access via a “Royal Duffy” luxury boat.

Additional villa features will include: “personal airport greeting with expedited immigration; private luxury resort transfers; House of Marley sound system; welcome gift, including a branded beach tote and towel set; Molton Brown bathroom amenities, free Wi-Fi and more.”

These Villas are built along a beautiful wooden boardwalk, and are connected to land at Sandals Royal Caribbean’s offshore private island, Sandals Cay. The island features a signature pool-bar; two restaurants- The Jerk Shack, offering authentic rustic cuisine and Royal Thai, capturing the flavors of the East; and a number of nestled hideaways.

Sandals Cay is a 10 minute transfer from Montego Bay’s Sangster International Airport. The hotel features over 200 rooms and suites and in addition to the Over-the-Water Villas and Bungalows, there are also recently renovated “Romeo & Juliet Suites” and “Windsor Beachfront Club Level” rooms. The “Luxury Included” resort also features eight on-property restaurant and bars, with access to 12 additional five-star Global Gourmet dining experiences at Sandals Montego Bay and Sandals Inn through Sandals Resorts’ “Stay at One, Play at Three” program.

Rates for the Over-the-Water Villas begin at $2,870 per couple, per night, while the Over-the-Water Bungalows are available for booking ahead of the 2017 debut, will begin at $2,200 per couple, per night.

But it doesn’t end there! Sandals will be developing additional Over-the-Water lodging on its other properties, and we will share those details as they become available, so “Stay Tuned!”

Ready to book? Contact your Travel Professional.

For more information on these villas, visit sandals.com.

 

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Excellent Source for Travel Brochures!

By December 7, 2016 Adventure Travel, Cities, Countries, Cruising, Destinations, Family Travel, Fishing, For Your Journey, Products, Solo Travel, Tours, Travel, Wild Places, Wildlife & Safari

If you travel at all, you appreciate the value of good travel brochures that inspire, and educate you about great destinations .

It does get frustrating when I lose them, or want to review one while I am abroad, and don’t have access to them.

Ah, but technology can fix this! If you have internet access, I have found an online source for hundreds of up-to-date travel brochures. They update regularly, and I don’t need to re-order or carry around glossy copies. I can download those that I really like, to keep with me on my laptop, or tablet.

And look, you can even sort them by location and other parameters. I’m always discovering something new in these brochures!

You can see the entire selection by clicking the image or get your Brochures Here.

Enjoy over 100 Travel Brochures provided by East-West Global Travel

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Guess where your closest Cruise Port is Located!

By December 4, 2016 Cities, Destinations, For Your Journey

Need to know which cruise port is closest to your home or desired destination? There are U.S. cruise ports in a variety of locations on each coast, so you’re sure to find one that’s convenient for you.
Need more information on the port? Click on the port location to visit the cruise port’s website.

Which port is your favorite?

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Escape to Telluride

By December 1, 2016 Adventure Travel, Cities, Destinations, Family Travel, Travel

I’m looking forward to traveling to Telluride again this winter. I have visited at least twice a year over the last 4 years. It truly is an excellent place to escape, lose yourself, or to rediscover. With plenty to attract just about any traveler, perhaps I can entice you to add Telluride to your travel plans this coming year.

Telluride is nestled in the southwest corner of Colorado. Some of its appeal is that it is effectively a remote destination, with no freeways within 200 miles, and surrounded by mountain passes, limiting the masses of people descending on this town the way they do on other towns like Jackson Hole WY, Aspen CO, and Durango CO. While state highways come through the area from Moab, UT, Cortez, Co and Grand Junction, CO, its a long, albeit breathtaking drive.

Telluride also operates the highest commercial airport in North America, yet all flights in are private or charter, and many get diverted to Montrose, CO anyway, which is serviced by United and American Airlines.  Flights to Montrose cost about $650 roundtrip from most points in the West and Midwest. Still, you’ll need to shuttle the 65 miles to Telluride at an additional cost.

To get a glimpse of what travel to Telluride may be like from Phoenix, AZ, through Cortez, CO, over Lizardhead Pass, view this video:

However challenging it may seem to get to Telluride, once you are there. its hard to leave. There is so much to do, see, and experience, that its easy to spend a week every year for many years just doing new and different things offered over the four seasons.

Now that I’ve pointed out the only downside I can think of visiting Telluride, its time to tell you all about the great things that Telluride has to offer.

Telluride Village

Originally started in 1880 as a mining camp named Columbia, the US Postal Service disallowed u

sing a name for a town post office that was already taken, so the alternate –  Telluride – was chosen. There are theories as to what that actually means, but I’ll let you take that up with the locals – its more fun that way! Telluride mining expanded throughout the valley. An investor working with Westinghouse brought alternating power from a dam powerplant up to the mines and then to Telluride, cementing the town’s place in history as the first in the nation with alternating current.

Telluride, CO

Telluride, CO

This was a boon not only for mining, but for the mining barracks, saloons, and the seedy red light district. Telluride was an interesting, lively place in those days. That boon began to end when the silver crash of 1893 dropped prices, making mining a unprofitable business. Those that stayed ended up leaving at the onset of World War I, seeking better jobs, or entering the war. Telluride, like most other mining towns of the same era, became a ghost town.

Telluride and Mountain Village were then connected with the first year round gondola of its type, to serve the needs of the communities. The resort and communities continue the innovation in recreation and leisure opportunities.

Mountain Village

Mountain Village

Mountain Village

Located in the core of the ski resort, on the high plateau over 1000 feet above Telluride, is a newer community with plenty of real estate for rent, condos to purchase, and multi-million dollar homes to impress the most discriminating wealthy buyer. The village was built with the resort guest in mind, with plenty of lodging next to trail offering ski-up access, plenty of short run lifts, and shops that provide the necessities of the resident/guest.

 

Both communities have interesting shops, world class dining, excellent recreation offerings, and awe inspiring views.

Festivals & Celebrations

A large draw to Telluride are the plethora of special events. Probably half of them were created with no other interest than a local citizen’s passion for a topic, and wanted to put on something special around that theme, for the weekend, and the event took a life of its own over time. Other events were created specifically for the sake of tourism. Either way, There is probably a handful of events that would interest you. Here is a list that occur annually:

Art Walk – Weekly, first Thursday of the month

Fire Festival – A flame induced celebration, inspired by Burning Man – Mid January

Comedy Festival – World Class comedians, and local hacks share the laughs – Mid February

Gay Ski Week – Fun on the slopes and at parties for the LGBTQ community – Last week of February

Tribute Fest – Tribute bands and events paying homage to rock bands of yester-year – Mid March

Literary Arts Fest – Poetry to books, and even a Hike to Reading event – Mid May

Mountainfilm  – Celebrating Outdoor recreation and activism through film – End of May

Balloon Festival – Hot air balloons, rides, glows and more – First week of June

Wild West Fest – The West comes alive, along with 500 visiting inner-city youth – Early June

WOW – Work Out Weekend, Health and fitness festival – Early June

Bluegrass Festival – Simply one of the finest Bluegrass Music events in the US – Mid June

Wine Festival – Tastings, and pairings – Mid June

Plein Air Festival – Artists come to paint outdoors – Late June

Rundola – Mountain run of 1800 feet of elevation gain. – July 4

Fireman’s Celebration – Fun activities and celebratory events – July 4

The Ride Festival – Music fest in the town park – Mid July

Art & Architecture Festival – Featuring unique downtown properties and exhibits – Mid July

Yoga Festival – All things yoga at this festival – Mid July

Jazz Festival – Historic Greats and up-and-coming artists  – Early August

Chamber Music Festival – Classical Chamber Music performed in the valley – Mid August

Mushroom Festival – Anything and Everything Fungal! – Mid August

Telluride Film Festival – A Prestigious Film festival featuring world class filmmakers – Late August

Blues & Brews Festival – Food, Blues Music, and microbrew to compliment – Mid September

Festival of Cars & Color – A Fall foliage car show of Classic autos – Mid September

Horror Festival – A 3 day horror film festival featuring 18 films and 20 shorts – Mid October

 

Adventure

If you are coming to experience a festival, or just to visit, there is plenty to draw you away, into the outdoors. Frankly, this is the bet reason to visit Telluride – anything else is ancillary.

Winter

With some of the best terrain in the United States, it would be easy to write about each activity. But here is a list of all you can do in the winter:

Lift Served Alpine Skiing, Heli-skiing, Backcountry trail served skiing, Telemark Skiing, Nordic Skiing, Sleigh rides, Snowmobiling, Hot Spring Stays, Ice Climbing, Sledding, Snowshoeing, Dog Sledding, Horseback riding, Fly fishing, Fat Tire Bicycling.Telluride Resort

Summer

Biking, Hiking, Mountain biking, 4×4 trails drives, Ghost Towns, ATV & Motorcycle routes, Court sports galore, Disc Golfing, Fly Fishing, Golf, Horseback riding, Hot Air Ballooning, Camping, Paragliding, Landscape Photography Tour, Mountain running, Skate parks, Paddleboarding, Swimming, spas, Whitewater Rafting.

 

Neither list is fully inclusive, and I intentionally left out shopping, movies and other more mundane activities you can do anywhere.

Trip Planning

The best way to get here is to plan your trip with a Travel Professional. Explain all that you want to do, the time you want to visit, and approximate budget. The only mistake you can make is not having a budget big enough to cover all the exciting things you want to do. Your travel professional will work magic for you in narrowing down options, costs, and can offer alternate solutions or options for your trip.

Secondly you can get on with a group excursion that will be traveling to Telluride. If Skiing is your interest, you can save a lot of money by going with an established tour group. The best person to handle this is Mike Clark of Arizona Fun and Leisure. a 4 day ski trip, with transportation from Phoenix, AZ, lodging and lift tickets can run just under $300! Its a seriously great value, and Mike has been doing this for over 30 years! You can learn more about his Telluride Ski Trips here.

Oh – and if you are interested in meeting me in Telluride, Let me know in the comments, and I’ll share when I’ll be there.

 

 

 

 

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